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The Situation Room

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

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CNN

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02:01:00

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Us 40, U.s. 19, Irs 16, Benghazi 13, Cnn 11, New Hampshire 10, Obama 10, Boston 9, Medicare 8, Florida 7, Afghanistan 7, Dan Pfeiffer 7, Fbi 6, Libya 6, Washington 6, The Irs 6, Clinton 6, United States 5, Michele Bachmann 5, Manchester 5,
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  CNN    The Situation Room    News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting  
   and online resources update international news. New.  

    May 16, 2013
    2:00 - 4:01pm PDT  

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hands of wolf blitzer. he's right next door in "the situation room." take it away. >> jake, thanks very much. happening right now, terror suspects lost and found. they were in a federal witness protection program, but where are they now? damage control over at the white house has president obama takes steps to defuse scandals. can he save his second term agenda. an exclusive inside look at how the u.s. military now force-feeding hunger striking terror suspects at guantanamo bay in cuba, why defense lawyers insist it's all inhumane. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." we begin with a story first reported on cnn. two former participants in the federal witness security program, one identified as a known terrorist and the other a suspected terrorist were at
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least for a while lost, yes, lost, by the u.s. marshal service. the justice department now says they've been accounted for, but the incident raised an in an inspector general's report raises very disturbing questions. jake tapper broke the story earlier on cnn. tell our viewers what we know right now. this was very disturbing. >> the department of justice inspector general was researching the witness security program, what people probably know better from tv and movies, the witness relocation program and found a whole bunch of holes in national security, so they put out this interim report. those holes included the fact, most importantly, that the marshals and others in justice department that were in charge of putting people in the witness relocation program, when they gave new identities to these individuals who had been suspected terrorists or related terrorists in criminal cases against terrorists, they were
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not informing the proper individuals in the national security apparatus what these new names were. so what happened was the inspector general told that to the justice department. they scrambled, tried to figure out what was going on, they tried to account for all the thousands of people that have been on the witness security program. and while they were doing that, they realized that they could not account for two individuals, known or suspected terrorists, who entered the witness security program and had left it. now, the justice department cautions -- they caution these two individuals are not a national security threat. they are accounted for, as reported, we don't know what that means. that could mean, yeah, we think they're in pakistan or it could mean they're in this jail in this country. we don't know. they won't say. they say they pose no threat and they're out of the country. it really shows again the fact that this national security apparatus that taxpayers spend hundreds of billions of dollars on, there are still big problems when it comes to sharing
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information. >> in this case between the martial service and the fbi, for example? >> exactly. and the people who put together the terrorist watch lists. the inspector general report noted that it was possible for known or suspected terrorists to fly on commercial airplanes in or over the united states while this problem was going on, and it was a problem until 2012. we're just learning about it now. terrorists, the government, law enforcement knew their names, knew who they were, but because they didn't give the new names in the witness relocation program to the people who do the terror watch lists, it was possible -- thank god nothing happened. but it shows more incompetence, when we had the democratic chairman of the house homeland security committee issued a statement condemning this lack of information sharing as well. >> how is the justice department reacting the this inspector general's report? >> they say the justice department agrees with the
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report that the witsec's requirements for admitting and monitoring participants needed to be enhanced for terrorism-linked witnesses. that is their statement. they're not disagreeing that the enhancements needed to happen. they're saying the inspector general gave them 16 improvements to make for national security reasons and they have completed 15. there's a 16th that they're working on. when you read the inspector general's report, it's rather chilling. they say in july 2012, the marshals stated they were not able to locate two former federal witness security program participants identified as known or suspected terrorists and that through its investigative efforts, it concluded that one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside the united states. it is again the kind of stovepiping, not sharing information, we saw it as recently as the boston marathon terrorist attack where the fbi had information on tamerlan tsarnaev that they were given by the russians and did not share it with local law enforcement.
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>> weul grateful to these various government inspectors general doing an excellent job looking at the work of government. good reporting, jake. the clouds hanging over president obama's second term agenda became all too real once again when rain started falling during his rose garden news conference with the visiting prime minister of turkey. president obama has been taking steps to get on top of the scandal surrounding his administration. today he pushed congress to boost funding for u.s. diplomatic posts overseas. that follows the release of e-mails aimed at quelling the controversy over the response to the benghazi terror attack last september 11 pth. president obama once again voiced anger about the irs targeting conservative groups, and he appointed a new acting head of the irs one day after pushing the acting commissioner to resign. >> we will be putting in new leadership that will be able to make sure that following up on
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the ig audit, that we gather up all the facts, that we hold accountable those who have taken these outrageous actions. as i said last night, it is simply unacceptable for there to even be a hint of partisanship or ideology when it comes to the application of our tax laws. >> certainly right on that. our chief political analyst gloria borger is here. the president seems to be and his aides in full damage control mode right now. but they still have a lot of work to do. >> they do have a lot of work to do. you saw the president out there talking about volunteering looking isht increasing embassy security, more funding for embassy security in regards to benghazi. look, this is a fight in washington right now, wolf, over who controls the agenda. you'd think the president of the united states would control the agenda. what we're seeing is congress, particularly republicans now with more than a half dozen
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committees in the house alone investigating these sorted problems, wrestling away control of the agenda from the president. today senior white house advisors had a meeting at the white house inviting back old communication czars from the clinton days, democratic strategists trying to get their sense of what their next steps should be to get ahead of this story because they're really worried about breaking through here. some of the advice they got was take the president out of washington, let him talk to the american people. someone even suggested how about having a town hall meeting. he was pretty good at those during the campaign. those are kind of unscripted, wolf. you never know what's going to happen. the real advice was get him out of washington and let him talk directly to the american people and not through republicans. >> speaking of republicans, i'm going to play some sound, some clips from republicans speaking out today.
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>> this is runaway government at its worst. who knows who they'll target next. >> irs, ap, benghazi, tend to confirm a lot of our worst fears about our government. they tend to tell us what we don't want to believe but that sometimes might be true, that your government is targeting you, that your government is spying on you and that your government is lying to you. >> there seems to be a pretty clear narrative coming out of these comments. >> first of all, everybody is talking about your government. members of congress, remember, are part of your government and their popularity rating is down in the single digits. but having said that, let me also say that all of these problems play into that, into that narrative which is that your government is incompetent at best and venal at worse is it. the irs story that jake was just talking about about the witness
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protection program, this plays into this narrative that president obama is a big government democrat who gave you health care, is now trying to have government police the borders and that that is not good for this country. now, even before, wolf, even before these scandals, when you take a look at the numbers of the trust in government, less than a third of americans trust the government to do the right thing all or most of the time. that was before this past week. i bet those numbers will be headed south. >> i suspect you're absolutely right. gloria has an excellent column on cnn.com. i'll speak with president obama's senior advisers, dan pfeiffer, he'll be here in "the situation room." we'll talk about the white house strategy for dealing with all these controversies and a whole lot more. also, he's been one of president obama's toughest critics.
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there is one area where senator rand paul sees eye to eye with the president. my interview with senator rand paul. that's coming up next, and a cnn exclusive inside guantanamo bay. our own chris lawrence is there for us right now. he takes us inside the infirmary where prisoners on hunger strikes are being kept alive. ♪ [ male announcer ] purpose elevates what we do. raises it to a more meaningful place. makes us live what we do, love what we do and fills our work with rewarding possibility. aarp connects you to a community of experienced workers and has tools to help you find what you're good at. an ally for real possibilities. aarp. go to aarp.org/possibilities.
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where over seventy-five percent of store management started as i'm the next american success story. working for a company hourly associates. there's opportunity here. i can use walmart's education benefits to get a degree, maybe work in it, or be an engineer, helping walmart conserve energy. even today, when our store does well, i earn quarterly bonuses. when people look at me, i hope they see someone working their way up. vo: opportunity, that's the real walmart. as the white house takes steps to overcome a series of scandals can it manage to fend off republican attacks and in the process win some republican support? senator rand paul of kentucky is joining us, key member of the senate foreign relations committee. thanks very much for coming in. >> glad to be with you, wolf. >> the president wants to learn
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the lessons of what happened in benghazi last september 11th. among other things he says the u.s. has to beef up security for diplomats around the world. listen to what he said. >> i'm calling on congress to work with us to support and fully fund our budget request to improve the security of our embassies around the world. >> are you with him on that? >> absolutely. in fact, i'd go one step further. i think some of these embassies need to be under military control and not state department. i think one of the mistakes we made in libya and i don't think they've yet recognized the mistake is benghazi is more like bagdad than it is paris. i think we treated the embassy and consulate in benghazi like paris, a marine here, or two. we had an unofficial militia guarding our ambassador. i think benghazi still they haven't learned the lesson. i would put it under military control rather than state department control.
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>> who is responsible for that blunder? >> i think ultimately the buck stops with hillary clinton if not the president. the other thing is ultimately for six months there were these requests for security, for additional security and ambassador pickering said it didn't ever rise up to the level of hillary clinton. i say that's precisely her culpability. that's a decision that should have risen to her level. i do fault her for not getting involved enough in one of the most troublesome country on the planet? >> now that the white house has released the transcripts of the e-mails, leading the the talking points, the various iterations of those talking points that led the u.s. ambassador to the u.n. to go out on the sunday show and make the suggestions she was making about demonstrations and all of that, are you satisfied now that you've gone through all those e-mails that there was no political coverup? >> well, i'm still unclear why -- i think there was a coverup or a misdirection
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campaign by the president and his people. i'm still unsure why they were trying to do it. did they think anybody was going to believe this had nothing to do with terrorism? i guess what troubles me is when hillary clinton came before our committee, she said she had nothing to do with the talking points. when you look at her e-mails there, it looks like her spokesman, victoria nuland is saying you've got to remove the terrorism quotes because there could be political ramifications. this is hillary clinton's spokesman. unless hillary clinton's spokesman doesn't speak for her, this really does draw hillary clinton into this. it puts her fingerprints all over these talking points. >> there's no apparent evidence that victoria nuland directly got instructions from the secretary of state, right? >> well, i think what she says in the e-mails is she discussed it with the state department leadership. >> she does say that. >> i'm wondering who the state department leadership is if it's not hillary clinton. >> it could be a deputy
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secretary, could be assistant secretaries. there's other layers of leadership. >> yeah, maybe. but the thing is we're in a situation where this is occupying you would think almost every moment of concern. it's a huge disaster. an ambassador has been killed. you have hillary clinton on the phone at 2:00 a.m. with greg hicks over in libya. so you have to wonder that somehow she's no longer involved in the loop with her spokesman who is talking about how to -- the political judgments of the talking points. i just find it stretches cred utility to say she wasn't involved in the talking points. >> you obviously have a lot of questions on that issue. right now we're learning, cnn's barbara starr, that they do have a plan to locate the terrorists that killed ambassador stephens and the other americans to go in on the ground in libya with special operations forces and
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capture or kill those terrorists. would you support that? >> i support anything we can do to bring the people to justice who killed the ambassador, yes. >> you wouldn't have a problem sending froops on the ground. let's talk a little bit about the attorney general of the united states. i'll play a clip for you. this is the president expressing his strong support for eric holder at a news conference he had with the visiting turkish prime minister. listen to this. >> mr. prime minister, you're right. i have complete confidence in eric holder as attorney general. he's not standing attorney general and does his job with integrity and i expect he will continue to do so. >> do you have confidence in the attorney general? >> i'm a strong believer in the first amendment protections for the press. i think there needs to be a very high bar that has to be crossed before you would take records from the press, particularly taking them without a judge's warrant and without the knowledge of those you've taken the records from. at the same time i'm a big believer that, if you're a
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government official and you divulge government secrets, that you should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. but i think most of the information, if it's going from a government official to the press, i don't see why you can't subpoena through a judge or a warrant to records of the government official and get all of the information you need to know, bring that government and official under oath and under a lie detector test and have them explain to you did they release the information? we have a high standard in government a higher standard than the public. we also have a high standard of protecting the media from government coercion. i'm disappointed they went after these records from the associated press. i think at the very least you should ask the judge for a warrant and present your evidence. even then i'm very wary of going after the media with the full force of government, i think that independent nature of the media that we need to present both sides and keep government
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accountable is endangered by this kind of affair. >> you know eric holder says he recused himself from that decision and left it to the deputy attorney general. does that give him an out? >> you know, secretary clinton didn't make the decisions either for no security. i think sometimes we have excuses for things that we should have participated in. i don't know why exactly, and i think he wasn't clear exactly why he recused himself in this particular case. but ultimately the buck stops with who runs an organization, and the issue to me is more important than eric holder and his department. the issue is about freedom of press, about judge's warrants and about the threshold forgetting records. as a society, we've been making it easier and easier for the government to look at your e-mails, your bank records, visa records. i want more protections for the individual, for the press. but i really think we have to be careful about giving government the ability to look at our records. >> for the record, attorney general holder says he recused
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himself because he, himself, was interviewed by investigators as part of that leak investigation. so he thought it would be inappropriate to be part of the decision-making process. senator rand paul, thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. coming up, lots more news here in "the situation room." is the tea party movement making a major comeback? just ahead, why the latest irs scandal may be the best recruiting tool the activists have seen in the past few years. millions in cash payments in suitcases. the u.s. reportedly giving the the afghan president hamid karzai, cash to karzai. i'll speak about that with the senator who is now personally demanding an explanation from president obama, senator bob corker is here in "the situation room." all that and a lot more coming up. we'll be right back. sgloovrnlths sglfrnlths introducing tidy cats with glade tough odor solutions.
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. this just coming in to "the situation room," another departure over the internal revenue service a day after the acting commissioner, steven miller was forced to resign, we're now learning from an internal irs memo that joseph grant, the commissioner of the tax-exempt government entities division has announced his plans to retire as well. that's the division responsible for targeting the conservative groups seeking stacks exempt status. the targeting of those conservative groups by the irs is certainly energizing the tea party movement across the country. our national political correspondent jim acosta is here in "the situation room" looking into this fascinating part of the story.
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what are you seeing? >> wolf, the irs mess has not only create add headache for president obama, it's also given a big shot in the arm to some of the biggest critics of this white house in the tea party. >> thank you everyone for being here. my name is michele bachmann. >> the tea party is back with a vengeance, thanks to the political targeting scandal at irs, tea partiers have their best recruiting tool in years. >> government agents have used the irs as a weapon to silence speech. >> at a news conference that drew top leaders, tea party groups shared their stories of enduring what they described as years of harassment from the irs to receive tax-exempt status. >> we really have no money. the insanity is the pages of documents that we sent them for someone to take the time to go through that, i mean, it's not like -- there's no money we have anyways to start with. >> just as the tea party's momentum had been slowing in
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recent months, activists in the movement are feeling emboldened. >> does this pump additional fuel into our engine? yes, it does. >> now tea party members in congress are questioning whether the irs can be trusted to enforce the individual mandate in obama care that requires americans to carry health insurance or pay a tax. >> i'm quite worried your medical records now will be evaluated by the irs. >> democrats say that's just another gop attempt to undermine the law. >> any issue that comes up they will try to exploit. >> the chair of the tea party caucus, michele bachmann, is making not so vailed references to watergate. >> we need to know what the white house knew and when they knew it. >> even though she cautions it may be too soon to talk impeachment. when we attempted to clarify that, bachmann staffers tried to end the interview. >> the reference is one where we actually need to get an answer to the question. what did they know and when did they know snit we don't have
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answers to any of those. wet haven't scratched the surface yet. >> is it watergate all over again? >> is far worse than watergate. these are direct actions taken against americans who sought to exercise their free speech rights under the first amendment. >> the president to say said there is no comparison. tea party leaders argued they don't need big rallies in the streets, they have members of congress who are on their side which is no surprise when one top gop lawmaker today introduced a bill that would block the irs from enforcing obama care. we're expecting another vote to repeal obama care. that won't be signed by the president or passed in the senate. it's a sign the tea party is back in charge. >> michele bachmann has taken a relatively low key stance over the past few months. all of a sudden, she's coming out. >> that's right. our dana bash had to chase her down the hallway recently to get an answer from her on a particular story.
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take a look at that event that happened earlier today. mitch mcconnell, rand paul, ted cruz, other top republicans on capitol hill were at that tea party news conference. if this news conference had taken place two weeks ago before this irs scandal, i doubt very much any of those lawmakers would have been there. this has changed the game for the tea party. >> certainly has. jim acosta, good report. on a day when a suicide car bombing in kabul, afghanistan, killed at least 12 people including six americans, there's simmering anger on capitol hill over several aspects of u.s. policy towards afghanistan, especially one involving the cash relationship with the afghan government. and senator bob corker of tennessee is joining us right now, the ranking member of the senate foreign relations committee. thanks very much for coming in. >> wolf, always good to be with you. >> the last time you and i spoke, you were pretty outraged about these reports that the cia over the years have been
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providing bundles, bags full of hamid karzai the afghan leader so he could distribute that money, do with it what he wants. you wanted an explanation from the president. you wrote to him. you got no explanation. on tuesday you wrote another let center saying these secret payments lack any kind of accountability, encourage the kind of corruption we're trying to prevent in afghanistan and further undermine u.s. taxpayers' confidence in our government. since my original letter president karzai has claimed that the he was assured the payments will continue. have you received any reaction, any word yet from the administration about these bundles of cash? >> well, wolf, two days ago we got word from the administration. i'm the ranking member on foreign relations and one of the missions of the state department that we oversee is to try to create the rule of law and certainly to fight corruption
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where the countries we work with. i was told that this really was not my business, that this was not in our jurisdiction. of course, i think it's in all of our jurisdiction. but since that time i think it's my understanding they decided maybe that wasn't a good response and they're developing something and are going to send it back. again, wolf, afghanistan is a country that's just route with corruption. this administration has been -- i'm talking about the afghan administration, has had tremendous issues with corruption. it's my understanding that not only are the cash payments going to the president of the country -- this is a democratically elected president that we deal with and send billions of dollars in money, but on top of that, the fact we're taking suitcases full of cash and giving it to this democratically elected leader and possibly to relatives in
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other part of the country, to me that is totally the antithesis of what this country represents. i understand sometimes when you go into new countries like what we're doing in syria. i understand there may be routes that we have to take. this is a very different situation and something that to me flies in the face of our sensibilities in this nation, and i do want a response. it's been a long time now. this country is getting ready to go through another election in the next year or so, and to me this is not the way we need to be dealing with the country. i thought john mccain brought up a great point yesterday after i questioned the undersecretary, and that is, what if other countries were doing this? in other words, if we new russia or iran or some other country was delivering suitcases full of cash to the afghan president, how would we view that?
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i don't know why we're doing this. i want an explanation. since we talked about this in public, i want a public explanation as to why our country would be engaged in this kind of behavior if we're doing that. >> on the surface it does sound outrageous, 11 years or more after the u.s. went into afghanistan, still handing out millions of dollars in cash to the leader of afghanistan for him to do with what he wants. it sounds outrageous. maybe to have an explanation, once you get some explanation, if you'll share it with us and the american public, senator, we'd be grateful. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, senator corker for joining us. >> coming up in the next hour, i'll speak with president's senior adviser dan pfeiffer. we'll talk about the white house strategy for dealing with all these continued very sees. up next, though, a cnn exclusive. tubes, liquids and shackles. cnn gets a firsthand look at the drastic measures that u.s.
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officials are using to try to keep guantanamo bay detainees on a hunger strike alive. horrifying video as a baby in a stroll errols off a train platform and onto the tracks. you're going to see what happens. that's coming up as well. sgloofrnlths sglfrnlths
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. here is a look at the other top stories we're monitoring in "the situation room" right now. new orleans police arrested a second suspect in the mother's day shooting that injured 19 people, three still in critical condition. police say the two suspects are believed to be involved in gangs. the first suspect who was taken into custody last night is facing 20 counts of attempted second degree murder. bail was set at $10 million during his first court appearance today. at least six people are dead and rescue workers are searching for seven people still missing after ten reported tornadoes pummeled north texas overnight. the victims and the missing were last seen in a habitat for
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humanity neighborhood of more than 100 homes most of which were destroyed. a survey team found damage indicating an ef-4 tornado. that's the second most severe on the scale. a new report suggests lowering your salt intake below the currently recommended 1 1/2 teaspoons per day may be unnecessary, this following a decades-long push to reduce sal heart disease. researchers have now determined there isn't enough evidence to say whether lowering salt consumption actually increases or decreases your risk of health problems, and in some cases, you don't have enough salt, it may actually have adverse effects. horrifying surveillance video from philadelphia shows a baby in a stroller rolling off a train platform onto the tracks. you can see the mother jumped down, grabbed the baby and handed her to a man standing above. take a look at this. philadelphia transit police were able to stop an incoming train
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in the meantime. by the way, the child was hospitalized with a laceration to the forehead. no charges are being filed. fortunately the kid is okay. coming up, it's one of the most horrifying stories to come out of syria and there have been so, so many. a rebel killing and eating a soldier. "time" magazine interviewed the man. you'll find out what he says he did. that's next. then we have a cnn exclusive for you. a firsthand look at the drastic attempts under way right now to force feed prisoners on a hunger strike at the u.s. detention facility in guantanamo bay in cuba. ♪ fly me to the moon ♪ let me play among the stars ♪ and let me see what spring is like ♪ ♪ on jupiter and mars
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it's a grisly symbol of the horrors that syria is going through right now, the brutality of a civil war that has left tens of thousands of people dead. we should warn you that have th is very graphic material. a video that begins with a syrian rebel leader cutting out the or gan gans of a dead soldier. joining us from "time" magazine, erin, thanks very much. tell us about this gruesome video that "time" magazine obtained. describe what's going on. >> well, in the video, the commander, he goes by the named of abu sakhar, he found a man, a soldier from the syrian army dead by bullet oovps. he took a knife and cut out a hole in the chest and pulled out the lunges and the heart.
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and while being videotaped, he held up the lung and said you dogs of bashar, this is how we will treat you, i'll eat your hearts and livers and he took a bite on the video. it was meant as a message to the regime. >> you authenticated this video. you reviewed it, interviewed this individual, el hammad, the man in the video who appeared to be eating the organs of this dead syrian soldier. what was his justification, if you will? >> he had -- he tells me that he had discovered on this soldier's person a cell phone with videos on it. he looked at one of the videos, and it showed that soldier raping and abusing three women. so he used that as justification. he said this is the revenge that he would take and he swore that this is what would happen to anybody that was on his turf that was doing such things. >> so what does this individual -- oh it's pretty
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gruesome as we point out. tell us anything about the rebels, the kinds of people that are within the ranks of this group? >> wolf, i think it stems beyond just this group. the whole syrian war is a very gruesome, very -- it's got violence on an intimate scale. a lot of it is being videotaped. so what this tells us about the rebels, this is one guy who did something very extreme, but we're seeing across the board from both sides torture, beatings, rapes, all this is showing up on youtube. it is videos used to send threats to the other side, defiance, revenge, all of it is televised. >> all this video out there on youtube and elsewhere, it's going to fuel even more violence, isn't it? >> absolutely. it starts this tit for tat thing. once someone has performed an act of khcannibalism on screen
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a sign of revenge, what goes next? it feeds into this cycle of violence and then the consumption of this violence on youtube afterwards. >> just when you think it can't get more brutal, it does indeed. aryn baker from "time" magazine. i'll put the cover of the new issue up on the screen right now. there it is, the cover story on "the angelina effect," what's going on as far as angelina jolie is concerned and breast cancer. an excellent cover story, and an excellent coverage of the situation in syria. >> thank you, wolf. a firsthand look at the drastic attempts to force feed prisoners on a hunger strike at the u.s. detention facility in guantanamo bay. a race to save florida's $9 billion orange crop. thousands of jobs have already been lost. what's killing the trees? of a heart healthy diet. that's true.
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we're getting a rare exclusive look at the drastic measures being taken inside the u.s. detention facility at quadriplegic in cuba, to keep dozens of inmates on hunger strikes alive. chris lawrence is joining us now, from guantanamo bay. he's on the scene for us. he's got some amazing details. what are you learning, chris? >> well, wolf, just a few hours ago, we got inside the actual medical clinics of the detention center, and for the first time spoke with the doctors who are overseeing this very controversial practice. cnn got a firstland look at the
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shackles, tubes and liquids now used to feed 30 detainees who refuse to eat. the tube goes up their nose, down the throat and into their stomach. then supplements are pumped in for 30 to 45 minutes. some of the 100 hunger strikers refuse food, but will drink supplements. but these 30 have to be forced. >> it's kind of a tough mission. kind of an ugly place sometimes. >> reporter: that's the detention group's senior medical officer speaking for the first time since they condemned the tube feeding. >> are you concerned that the medical association has come out against this practice? >> again, there's lots of politics involved. i'm sure they have internal politics they have to answer to as well. >> reporter: he asked to remain anonymous for security reasons, but he stands by the methods used at guantanamo bay. >> it's easy for folks outside of this place to make policies or decisions they think they would implement. >> reporter: the hunger strike
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marks its 100th day friday and shows no signs of stopping. cnn obtained handwritten letters from one of the detainees. one reads, be tortured and stay detained. another quotes a french writer about how your very existence becomes inactive rebellion. he sounds hopeless when he writes, the commissions are a joke. if you lose, you go to prison for a life. if you win, you're held inbe definitely for life. >> we don't have a goal to, quote, break the hunger strike. >> reporter: defense attorneys say shackling a detainee and snaking a tube into his stomach is inhuman. >> you don't get farther than about here in your throat before the tears just start streaming down your face. >> reporter: gitmo officials say the tubes are thin and lubricated. >> nobody's expressed to me that this hurts. >> reporter: attorneys claim their clients say otherwise. >> he said he never felt such pain like that in his life.
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>> reporter: the number of detainees now being fed this way has reached its highest point in seven or eight years. military officials claim that the majority of those on a hunger strike are feeling peer pressure. they don't want to eat in their cells, where other inmates may be able to see them. once they actually get to the clinic, they do voluntarily drink that liquid supplement, wolf. >> amazing stuff going on at gitmo. chris lawrence on the scene for us with that exclusive report. we'll check back with you tomorrow, chris. thank you. it's being called president obama's worst week. we're going to talk to a senior white house adviser to the president, dan pfeiffer, he's standing by live. lots to discuss. and billions of dollars and thousands of jobs at risk right now. you're going to find out what's threatening florida's massive orange crops. this day calls you.
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[ male announcer ] now get 50% off brake pads and shoes at meineke. a tiny bug creating huge problems for florida right now, costing potentially billions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and possibly even your orange juice. cnn's john zarrella is on the scene for us. john, what's going on? >> yeah, wolf, if you like florida orange juice, a piece of advice, drink up now. this is bob ross new river groves, and he always has plenty of florida oranges. but maybe not for much longer. the last florida oranges of the season are being picked. on some trees, blossoms that become next season's fruits are already opening. the sweet smell permeates the grove. but the aroma masks a deadly problem. >> it is the most serious disease we've had to face in the last 50, 100 years.
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>> reporter: it's called citrus greening. it has the potential agriculture officials say to bring the state's $9 billion a year industry to its knees. an industry that supplies 70% of the nation's orange juice. >> it is now reached an infection rate where it is present in every citrus producing county in florida, and every citrus producing state in america. >> reporter: and this tiny bug, the size of a gnat, called an asian citrus cylid, deposits a bacteria, not harmful to humans, that causes misshapen fruit and can kill a tree in three years. there's no cure. at one time florida produced 300 million boxes of oranges a year. not anymore. the disease was first discovered here in 2005. since 2006, nearly 8,000 jobs have been lost.
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nearly every year the production of oranges is falling. 140 million boxes this year. now, growers say that's not just because of citrus greening, but it's a primary reason. agriculture officials say there is a tipping point. if the number of boxes falls below 100 million, then the industry begins to become irrelevant. it's a trickledown, from the guys who produce the cartons to put the juice in to the harvester that picks the fruit. at the u.s. department of agriculture lab, researchers are looking into several possible solutions. including a spray-on antibiotic that would be absorbed by the tree, and then kill the bug. >> i admit, i lose sleep at night worrying about it. are we going to find the answer soon enough. >> reporter: so how is it such a small insect could destroy an industry? well, these bugs live less than two months. and during their life span, a single female cylid can lay 800
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eggs, making pest side ineffective. right now this little bug is slowly squeezing the life out of a very big industry. now, there's a full court press going on around the world to try and find an answer to this problem, wolf. tens of millions of dollars being spent on research. but so far, no luck. wolf? >> will john zarrella on the scene for us. john, thanks very much. all of us do, in fact, love florida orange juice. happening now, reports of a meeting between the boston bombing suspect, tamerlan tsarnaev, and a chechen fighter just weeks before the attack. plus, the search for missing victims after killer tornadoes tear across texas. we're going there live. i'm wolf blitzer. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. the world. you're in "the situation room."
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-- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com we begin with clouds hanging over president obama's second term agenda. they became all too real once again today. very real, in fact, when rain started falling during the president's rose garden news conference with the visiting prime minister of turkey. president obama has been taking some major steps over the past few days to try to get on top of the scandal surrounding his administration. our white house correspondent, jessica yellin, is joining us now with the very latest. what another day for the president, jessica. >> president obama can't seem to catch a break. not even from the weather. >> we get a couple of marines, they're going to look good next to us. >> a stormy week broke into a steady rain in the rose garden. >> there we go. that's good. >> reporter: as president obama beside turkey's prime minister faced questions about the
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controversies dogging his administration. >> my main concern is fixing a problem. the actions that were described in that ig report are unacceptable. i have complete confidence in eric holder as attorney general. >> reporter: on the irs scandal, he says there's no need for a special council. congress can investigate. >> they've got a whole bunch of committees. we've got igs already there. >> reporter: and side stepped when asked if anyone in the white house knew about irs targeting earlier than reported. >> i certainly did not know anything about the ig report before the ig report had been leaked through press -- through the press. >> reporter: he defended his justice department's decision to seize journalists' phone records. >> leaks related to national security can put people at risk. >> reporter: but says he now supports a media shield law, which may not have made a difference in this case anyway.
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it seems the president is trying to put the stormy days behind him. >> accepting the resignation of the acting commissioner of the irs. we're continuing to review our security at high-threat diplomatic posts. >> reporter: he just can't seem to get out from under the clouds. >> how do you feel about comparisons by some of your critics of this week's scandals to those that happened under the nixon administration? >> well, i'll let you guys engage in those comparisons. >> and wolf, more signs that the administration is now on damage control. the president just met with pentagon brass, announcing his next steps, to combat sexual assault in the military, and he officially called on congress to fund more embassy security. tomorrow he makes a big push on the economy. signal from here, business as usual, but still, they're clearly fighting these issues, wolf. >> some of hs advisers and others we'll be speaking with, dan pfeiffer senior adviser to the president, outside advisers
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think it might be a good idea for the president to spend more time now washgton, as opposed to being inside washington. what are you hearing? >> if the same old thing doesn't work, try to change it up. he does better when he's outside. but they were planning to do that anyway. >> we'll follow the president, inside washington, or outside washington. i know you and our entire white house team will be on the scene as well. fresh fallout from the irs scandal. another top official now stepping down. let's bring in our chief congressional correspondent, dana bash, she's been working really hard. what else is going on on this front? >> first of all, there is a second resignation at the irs, joseph grant, who until today, was the commissioner of the tax-exempt division. that is at the heart of the controversy. that's the first development. the second is that i learned this afternoon that former irs chief douglas schulman, who was at the helm during most of this controversial targeting, will testify before the house
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oversight committee next wednesday. the man who succeeded him will testify tomorrow. i got a preview today from the committee chairman. >> this is the witness table. >> reporter: in this room, republican dave camp will chair the first irs hearing since the scandal exploded. his star witness, steven miller, the irs chief who just got fired. this is literally the hot seat. >> well, i think it will be, because we've been inquiring, and he and the irs weren't forthcoming. >> reporter: miller learned one year ago irs agents were targeting tea party and other conservative groups for excessive scrutiny of tax-exempt applications, but miller never told congressional investigators, including camp. >> so i want to know what he knew, i want to know when he knew it, and i want to know from his standpoint to make sure this doesn't happen again. >> do you think steven miller is the fall guy here? >> i think this isn't going to end up just being one person's responsibility. this is an agency. there is a group of people.
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decisions are made with a lot of signoff. if it's incompetence, it's incompetence that really goes into a level of wrongdoing. >> reporter: this irs inspector general report concluded agents who singled out tea party groups were not influenced by anyone outside the irs. republicans are skeptical, especially the house speaker. >> somebody made a decision to do this. and i doubt that there were low-level employees, in the cincinnati field office. >> reporter: for now, it's mostly bipartisan. >> it's clear that the actions taken by some at the irs must be condemned. >> reporter: but some democrats worry all this could have a chilling effect on irs efforts to make sure groups that are blatantly political don't get tax benefits they shouldn't have. >> taxing breaks poison our airwaves during the 2012 election season. that, too, i would suggest is a scandal. >> reporter: in fact, democrats have worried for years conservative groups are abusing
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tax-exempt status. max baucus is investigating wrongdoing. in 2010, he was one of several senior democrats who pressured the irs for more scrutiny. in this 2012 letter signed by chuck shumer and others, singled out karl rove's group. karl rove is a senior official behind a 501-c-4 charity. his organization exists to elect and defeat specific political candidates, the senators wrote. crossroads spent tens of millions to defeat democrats. the top democrat on the committee holding tomorrow's hearing said he's concerned it will evolve into a partisan show instead of a fact-finding mission and while some republicans are actually concerned, too, one lawmaker in the house who has been investigating it for years, said he's a little concerned his own party will overplay their hand. >> the letters were written in
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2010, 2011 to the irs. senator max baucus, michael bennett, al frank and chuck schumer, tom udall, they all signed these letters. is there any evidence that the letters influence those at the irs to go ahead and single out tea party groups, or conservative groups for special attention before granting them this tax-exempt status? >> so far there's no direct evidence, no. i can't imagine this issue won't come up with all the republicans asking questions tomorrow, and of course, next week. i can tell you that max baucus went on the senate floor yesterday and said yes, he wrote this letter, but he didn't mean for it just to be targeting conservative groups, he meant it to be something that would be scrutinized across the board. democrats, republicans, everybody. >> the inspector general's report said they had no evidence that outside influence outside of the irs influenced these individuals, these officials at the irs, who were doing what they were doing. we'll see what happens at that hearing. thanks very much, dana.
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good work. >> thanks. we're going to get the white house reaction to what's going on. the president's senior adviser, dan pfeiffer, there he is, he's standing by live, ready to answer all of our questions. new details of the pentagon's plans to capture or kill benghazi terror suspects. it could include u.s. troops on the ground in libya, if necessary. all stations come over to mission a for a final go. this is for real this time. step seven point two one two. verify and lock. command is locked. five seconds. three, two, one. standing by for capture. the most innovative software on the planet... dragon is captured. is connecting today's leading companies to places beyond it. siemens. answers. ♪ fly me to the moon ♪ let me play among the stars
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so don't wait. with all the good years ahead, look for the experience and commitment to go the distance with you. call now to request your free decision guide. this easy-to-understand guide will answer some of your questions, and help you find the aarp medicare supplement plan that's right for you. difficult days over at the white house right now. over the benghazi terror attack, the fallout from that. then suddenly now facing this irs scandal as well. dan pfeiffer is the senior adviser to the president. he's joining us from the north lawn of the white house to talk about all of these issues. dan, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you, wolf. >> clarify, did anyone at the white house, because the president was specifically asked this question today, really didn't give us a hard answer, did anyone at the white house know anything about these irs
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abuses before we all learned about it the other day? >> well, wolf, as we've said, the first time that we were aware of this is when we heard a few weeks ago there was an active inspector general report into the irs. that was the first we heard. we didn't know the details of it until they came out in the press late last week. >> when you say a few weeks ago, was that three weeks, five weeks? >> three weeks ago, i believe. >> three weeks ago. so you personally found out at that time as well? >> no, the council was notified then. there was an inspector general review happening there. there were reviews happening across at all times. the details we learned from the press and learned for the first time what actually happened when we got the inspector general report late yesterday. >> when the president said he only heard about the irs scandal when he heard about it from the news media, the white house council never told him about the ig's report. >> when there are dozens of
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reports happening at the same time, we didn't have any details of what had actually happened, or that they had actually found wrongdoing here. it wasn't until we heard from the irs and saw the reports that we knew what happened. at that point the president took swift, decisive action, instructed secretary lew that he implemented all of the inspector general's recommendations. not a bunch of hearsay and leak to the report, the president took action. >> as sensitive as this, i would think the president was told the inspector general has a damning report coming out, mr. president, you should know about this. he shouldn't have to hear about it from the news media. >> it's just allegations at this point without details, that's not an unusual thing at all. >> let me talk about another irs official resigning today, the acting head resigned yesterday. is the white house asking for
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more resignations, more heads to roll? >> what the president said is we have to make whoever had responsibility is held accountable. that process is ongoing. as you saw, the president announced last night that secretary lew had accepted the resignation of the acting commissioner. that's ensuring that everyone responsible is held accountable. >> who is going to decide who else should be fired or punished or whatever? >> this secretary of the treasury is going through and looking at this, working with the irs to make sure this happens. we announced an acting commissioner, a career civil servant, danny, who worked for presidents of both parties, to head over there on a temporary basis to try to run the irs, and make sure we're implementing the recommendations. make sure it never happens again. >> the republican leader, mitch mcconnell, listen to what he said about the white house
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today. >> this is runaway government at its worst. who knows who they'll target next. >> tea party rally up on capitol hill. you saw senator rand paul and michele bachmann up there as well. runaway government, who knows who they will target next. he's referring to the obama administration. >> well, wolf, i think you answered your own question by saying, that he was at a tea party rally with michele bachmann and rand paul. he was playing politics here. there's no evidence to suggest anything like that. what we should do as republicans and democrat isdemocrats, we sh together to fix the problem. it affects everyone. hopefully the republicans do the right thing and work with us as the president has pledged to work with them to make sure it doesn't happen again. >> the president seemed to reject today the idea of a special council, outside the justice department, outside the normal investigatory procedures. he seemed to say that was not necessary right now.
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a lot of other people are thinking it is necessary. explain why -- i assume you agree with the president? >> i generally do, wolf. look, we've had an independent inspector general look at this. that's how these allegations were brought to light. that was an unsparing report. it was clear this was the result of a management problem. and offered specific recommendations how to fix it. we have committees in congress who are going to exercise their oversight function and we're going to work with them to do that as long as they do it in a responsible way. there's a mechanism to solve this problem, and we should use that mechanism. >> here's what republicans are concerned about. in 2011, 2012, democratic senators were writing letters to the irs asking them to investigate these alleged ch ed charitable organizations for abusing the tax code. maybe that has an impact on some of these officials over at the irs. do you understand why they're
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concerned about how -- the timeline, these letters from democratic senators and then all of a sudden some of these abuses occur? >> i think the inspector general did not suggest anything like that had any influence on this. we've had an independent inspector general report. people should read that report and draw their conclusions from that. there is a legitimate issue about we deal with these new 501 c 4s in the campaign finance environment post-citizens united. that's one element. there is nothing in the inspector general's report to suggest there was a connection between these letters and what the irs did. but congress should look at this. ner's goi they're going to do it. the president has pledged to work with them. let's good et to the bottom of all this. no one wants to get to the bottom of it more than the president of the united states. as he said, this is his government, and he takes responsibility. he wants to ensure that the american people have faith in that government. so he's going to work, do everything had ecan to solve the problem. >> congress is going to look at it as it should, the oversight
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responsibility very important. the attorney general said the fbi is going to have its own inquiry into this matter. and we'll see where it all goes. but you're right, the inspector general's report said they found no evidence of outside influence on the irs, to go ahead and take these steps that were clearly inappropriate. let's talk about benghazi for a moment. you took the extraordinary step yesterday releasing all the e-mails that led up to this talking points. some members of congress, some republicans like darrell issa who was here in "the situation room" said that's not enough. they want more. are you ready to release more? >> let's be very clear here. these e-mails that were released yesterday were provided to congress months ago. congress looked at them. the intelligence committees, republicans and democrats in the senate and house, and the leadership, speaker boehner, senator mcconnell, they looked at these. they didn't bat an eye. they didn't raise any issue for months. because they looked at them, just as you had a chance to look at them yesterday, wolf, and they showed what we've said all along is the case, we were trying to get it right. that we were operating under the
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recommendations, and the conclusions of the intelligence community at the time. and so we put those forward. in large part because republican staff as was broken on cnn, actually ended up fabricating e-mails to suggest white house involvement in a way that we weren't involved. we thought the best way to do is put them out. so we did that yesterday. >> dan pfeiffer, senior adviser to the president, thanks very much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. stay right here. we have a lot more news coming up, including a possible link between one of the boston bombing suspects and a former chechen rebel who is now living in new hampshire. i'm so glad you called. thank you.
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happening now, the fbi searches a home in new hampshire, looking for a possible link between one of the boston bombing suspects and a chechen rebel. also, the blind injustice of nature. homes for poor families built by volunteers leveled in an instant by tornadoes. and an emotional testimony, a murder victim's relatives tell a courtroom why jodi arias deserves to die. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." now to a story first reported on cnn, details of pentagon plans to capture or kill those behind the attack on the american compound in benghazi last september 11th. an attack which killed four americans, including the u.s. ambassador to libya. barbara starr has been working her sources. barbara, what are you learning? >> well, you know, wolf, benghazi has gripped headlines
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for months now. but we have exclusive new details about what might, might, be coming next if the president orders it. cnn has learned that the u.s. military has fresh plans to capture or kill perpetrators of the attack on the american compound in benghazi that killed four americans. the president has made clear he is determined to bring the attackers to justice. >> we are out there trying to hunt down the folks who carried this out. >> reporter: the u.s. intelligence community has a target list, including not only individuals, but militant strongholds where it believes al qaeda related operatives conduct planning and training. the military options are there if the president wants backup firepower for capturing suspects or attacking other targets. if ordered by president obama, cnn has been told that one part of the military plan calls for
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sending in u.s. special operations troops to carry out the mission. at the request of administration officials, cnn is not reporting some of the specific details about the target list, or the locations of u.s. military, and intelligence personnel in the north africa region. the fbi has already released images of these three men seen at the benghazi come pound. it's not calling them suspects, but it wants to find them. and just this week, the attorney general hinted at progress, eight months after the attack. >> mr. attorney general, can you give us an update on where the fbi's investigation of benghazi stands today? >> we will be prepared shortly, i think, to reveal all that we have done. >> now, details of the military planning were confirmed to cnn after several days of reporting.
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this was not offered to us as part of any media outreach by the administration. no orders yet from the president, but things are in place if it should come to that. wolf? >> and do they sense they're getting closer and closer to finding those who actually killed the ambassador, and the three other americans? in other words, how close do they feel they are? >> well, you know, you never know, do you. but i have to tell you, that senior administration officials have told me that in recent days, weeks perhaps, the intelligence has improved. that's been part of the reason they've been able to update some of this planning, relook at all of the options and try to take a very deep look at what they might be able to do in the coming days. attorney general holder seemed to indicate that something might be coming. wolf? >> thanks very much, barbara starr, doing excellent reporting for us, as she always does. a high-level white house meeting on sexual assaults. the president meeting with chuck hagel, and the heads of all the
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military branches, just moments ago. and afterwards, the president spoke out. >> not only is it a crime, not only is it shameful, and disgraceful, but it also is going to make and has made our military less effective than it can be. and as such, it is dangerous to our national security. there's no silver bullet to solving this problem. this is going to require a sustained effort over a long period of time, and that's why i'm very pleased to know that secretary hagel is going to be having weekly meetings on this. and i want us to make sure that we've got effective metrics and feedback, loops, so that we are continually evaluating how well we're doing. >> he is really, really angry about this. so is the defense secretary, chuck hagel. democratic senator kirsten gillibrand of new york
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introduced legislation that would remove what's known as the chain of command from the process that victims have to go through to get their claims heard. we'll hear a lot more about this in the coming weeks. meanwhile, new developments in the boston bombing investigation. right now, a law enforcement source telling cnn that dzhokhar tsarnaev wrote a message while he was hiding inside a boat, saying the attack was payback for the u.s. wars in iraq and afghanistan. and that the bombing victims were, in his words, collateral damage. he also wrote he would not miss his older brother tamerlan who died in a fire fight with police because he would soon be joining him. we're also following a possible, yes, possible link between tamerlan tsarnaev and a former chechen rebel now living in new hampshire. the voice of america reporting they met less than a month before the marathon bomb attack, and that the fbi has searched, has executed a search warrant at his home. cnn's brian todd is joining us from manchester, new hampshire,
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right now. brian, i know you're investigating this part of the story. what are you learning? >> wolf, we learned that this gentleman in question is hunkered down right now and there are a lot of jittery neighbors who live right around him. investigators are still looking into possible links that tamerlan tsarnaev may have had with military activity in russia, and apparently have a lot of questions for the man living right behind me. the trail of tamerlan tsarnaev has reportedly led investigators to this condominium complex outside manchester, new hampshire. a man who lives on the ground floor is, cording to voice of america, a former resistance fighter in chechnya, who fought against russian security services. federal investigators learned that tamerlan tsarnaev met with him less than a month before the boston marathon bombings. they examined his computer hard drive, take his dna and fingerprints.
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a neighbor described the scene that day. >> they had some boxes where you are standing. just going through them. >> reporter: he told voa that federal officials had not suggested he was a suspect. asked by voa if he talked about his beliefs on tsarnaev -- >> never. he never spoken about their religious beliefs or anything like that to me. as i said the past three years, i saw him three times. >> reporter: we knocked on his door several times. a man and a woman inside called out that he didn't want to speak to us. a neighbor who didn't want to be named spoke of his character. >> he's been my neighbor for years, and he's a great neighbor. good guy. never had a problem with him. good friendaccording to voa, he said he came to the u.s. in
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2004 as a refugee. he told voa the last time tsarnaev visited him, he came with his wife, catherine, and their young child. asked why federal officials have apparently taken such an interest in them, he told of a shooting range in manchester. >> because they're saying he has a shooting practice here in new hampshire. and he buy some ammunition for a gun here in new hampshire. and he came to my house. so now i believe they're thinking why he's coming here to new hampshire, like i tried to help him or something, you know like that. >> reporter: but again, there's no indication that musa was involved in the boston marathon bombings in any way. we contacted the shooting range
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in manchester, mentioned in the voa report, as being the place where tamerlan tsarnaev practiced. the owners there would not comment. an fbi official would only tell us they were in new hampshire earlier this week on court authorized activity, but said she could not comment on the nature of that activity. >> nif reason to believe the widow may have tipped them off about this individual? because you say she was there, what, a month before the bombing, together with tamerlan tsarnaev? >> reporter: that's cording to that report, wolf, no reason to believe she might have tipped them off to this gentleman. but there are all sorts of questions as to how they found his name and contacted him here in manchester, new hampshire, an hour away from boston. >> katy russell purportedly cooperating with the fbi in this investigation right now. brian, good reporting, as you always do. at least ten tornadoes ripping across north texas. we're going to take you to the disaster zone. stand by. and some of the most emotional testimony in the jodi
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arias trial. her victim's brother and sister, they share their grief. [ female announcer ] from more efficient payments. according. to more efficient pick-ups. ♪ wireless is limitless. ♪ ♪
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♪ wireless is limitless. at least ten tornadoes touched down in northern texas overnight. we know of six deaths, all in a neighborhood for habitat for humanity homes. what awful, awful pictures, alana. what are you seeing, what are you hearing? >> reporter: wolf, this has been a heartbreaking day for people in this community. we've just learned the names of the six people who died. they were all adults. they were all in this subdivision that's located about a mile from where we are, that felt the wrath of this outbreak. >> oh, my god! >> reporter: an outbreak of at least ten twisters, carved a
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path of destruction through north texas, shredding trees and destroying homes. in the town of granbury, this is what's left of the rancho brazo subdivision, damaged homes littering an area authorities compared to a war zone. the sheriff's office said six people were killed here, others are still missing. >> it hurts. it hurts, because probably built one of their houses. >> reporter: the rancho brazo subdivision was known as a habitat for humanity neighborhood, built for people like al, who also lives in one of the homes. >> how does that make you guys closer? >> you're a big family now. you're part of the habitat community. you're a part of their family. >> these are homes you helped build. >> yes. you get close to people. you get close to the homeowners, you get close to the people from habitat. >> reporter: al, who was not home at the time the tornado hit, has not been able to go back. but he said he's seen pictures
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of the damage. >> i'm kind of antsy to see what's going on. i know the structure's there. i just don't know what devastation is done to it. it still looks sound. but the house that's on the corner, she has no roof. she's got a roof, but a big hole in it. >> reporter: authorities here in north texas say most of the subdivision's 110 homes were damaged or destroyed in the storm. >> it's a mess. but we're all still here. >> reporter: al is relying on his faith and his neighbors, hoping to rebuild their tight-knit community. even stronger than before. now, this is a live picture of what used to be a mobile home. people who live in this area tell us that thankfully, no one was inside this home when the tornado hit. now, the national weather service said a preliminary survey of the damage in the area suggests that the tornado that hit here was an ef-4. that says that the wind speeds were anywhere between 166 and 200 miles an hour.
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so far, there are still seven people missing. a spokesperson for this town tells us that this is no longer a search and rescue operation. this has now moved into a search-and-recovery operation. world? >> our hearts go out to all of those folks. wish them only the best. good luck to them. thank you, alina. a tearful day over at the jodi arias trial out in phoenix. you'll hear what the relatives of the man she killed told the jury, and what they have to decide, right now, whether she lives or dies. i'm also a survivor of ovarian a writand uterine cancers. i even wrote a play about that. my symptoms were a pain in my abdomen and periods that were heavier and longer than usual for me. if you have symptoms that last two weeks or longer, be brave, go to the doctor.
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jodi arias will have one more chance to talk to the jury that convicted her of murdering her boyfriend, and now has to decide whether she lives or dies. today her attorney told the jurors, arias, quote, will talk to you in a different way, not about what happened, but who she is. so far today, the jury's heard very emotional statements from the relatives of arias' dead boyfriend, travis alexander. >> i thought my brother was bulletproof. i thought he was stronger than anything. he couldn't be cut down or knocked down. he was in two motorcycle crashes and walked away unharmed. he wrecked several cars and nothing happened to him. he rolled a snowmobile, and again, not a scratch.
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he was unbreakable. who on earth would want to do this to him, for what reasons. he wanted to move forward in life, to better himself, and only to help others. why him. unfortunately, i won't ever get the answers to most of my questions about my brother's death. questions like how much did he suffer. how much did he scream. what was he saying, what was the last thing he saw before his eyes closed. what was his final thought in his head. >> travis had an incredible heart. he had a huge heart. and it was this huge heart, and his kindness that will forever be missed.
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we were robbed of so many good memories, so many awesome moments with travis. our lives will never be the same. we can never get him back. we are so grateful for our wonderful brother, and we feel so lucky and blessed for the time we had with travis. however short-lived. we would give anything to have him back. anything. >> our senior legal analyst, jeffrey toobin, is watching and listening, like all of us. jeff, very emotional statements today. how much do you believe this will affect the jury which must
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now decide whether she gets the death sentence or life in prison? >> well, i think it does matter. because remember what her -- jodi arias' defense was in this case, was that her boyfriend was a monster, that he was a pedophile, that he was an abuser. by the way, none of that was proven. and now they are seeing a very different side of him. a much more sympathetic side of him, which might make the jury even more angry at jodi arias. so it does seem to have a good deal of potential to be very damaging there. >> we're learning today that arias' defense attorneys actually, get this, they tried to withdraw from the case after her conviction. the judge ruled they had to stay. so how common is this? >> it's very rare for attorneys to attempt to leave a case at the very, very end. there are only a few days left, and this trial has gone on for months and months. i don't think it takes a psychic to figure out that jodi arias has been a very difficult
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client. i can't imagine that her lawyers authorized her to give that bizarre interview to the local fox reporter, right after she was convicted, where she said she wanted to die, and didn't want to be sentenced to life in prison. so i'm sure she's been a very difficult client. but to take this step is unusual. it's not surprising, though, that the judge said no, you couldn't possibly bring in new lawyers to master a case this long and complicated at this late stage of a case. so she made sure the lawyers stayed on. >> if she does testify, we assume she will, do you believe she will say what she said in that fox interview, right after she was convicted of first-degree murder, that she would prefer the death sentence? >> you know, that's a great question. and i don't know. obviously she's a very unpredictable person. her lawyers have previewed her testimony. her lawyers have told the jury that she is going to testify. so presumably they would not put her up there if she was going to say to the jury, please execute
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me. but, you know, this is an unpredictable woman, it's an unpredictable situation. i don't think she'll say that, but no one can be sure. >> jeffrey, thanks very much. a plane used on hong haul flights has a scary problem. some of them have a defective part that can cause an engine to shut down in flight. we'll have details. also, on a very different note, how a bag of pretzels led to the arrest of a child pon suspect. stand by. [ male nouncer ] when gloria and her financial advisor
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made a retirement plan, they considered all her assets, even those held elsewhere, giving her the confidence to pursue all her goals. when you want a financial advisor who sees the whole picture, turn to us. wells fargo advisors. i took my son fishing every year. we had a great spot, not easy to find, but worth it. but with copd making it hard to breathe, i thought those days might be over. so my doctor prescribed symbicort. it helps significantly improve my lung function starting within five minutes. symbicort doesn't replace a rescue inhaler for sudden symptoms. with symbicort, today i'm breathing better. and that means...fish on! symbicort is for copd including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. it should not be taken more than twice a day. symbicort may increase your risk of lung infections,
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osteoporosis, and some eye problems. tell your doctor if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure before taking it. with copd, i thought i'd miss our family tradition. now symbicort significantly improves my lung function, starting within 5 minutes. and that makes a difference in my breathing. today, we're ready for whatever swims our way. ask your doctor about symbicort. i got my first prescription free. call or click to learn more. [ male announcer ] if you can't afford your medication, astrazeneca may be able to help.
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take a quick look at the other important stories today. airlines are being warned to
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inspect and replace an engine part in one of boeing's long haul jets. the problem caused engines on two of boeing's 777s to shut down in mid flight. it's been traced to an italian made part and an engine gearbox. boeing and general electric say there are 25 jets out there that have it in both of their engines. the companies say the planes should be grounded and fixed now. unlikely clue led to the arrest of a suspected child pornographer. danish authorities noticed a bag of pretzels only available in the united states. they released pictures of the man and appealed for the public's help. today he is under arrest and the latest child is in protective custody. no matter how good they are, there comes a time when all sports heroes have to call it quits. today it's soccer great david beckham's turn. 'announced he'll retire tend of the season. he is 38 years old. hip hop music and italian
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restaurants in libya only two years after the fall of kadavy, anthony bordane ventures there in "parts unknown." anthony bourdain will join me in "the situation room" tomorrow. a comedian is taking his humor to new heights. that's next. ♪ ♪ fly me to the moon ♪ let me play among the stars ♪ and let me see what spring is like ♪ ♪ on jupiter and mars ♪ in other words
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this comedian kirk brown begged for donations through the freezer door on the crowd funding site. his goal is to hire a sky writer to -- >> insert stupidity into stranger's lives. >> reporter: by flying over downtown los angeles writing how do i land? that should make folks smile. we haven't seen such a elaborate sky writing since the couple in malcolm in the middle celebrated their love with two hearts. within a couple days, kirk received almost $7,000 in donations, more than enough to write a ten character joke. i was a windy day in l.a., as soon as the plane would write a word, the letters would be gone. so with the watch party kirk hosted on a roof top -- >> as soon as the second letter
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was done, it just blew away. and so everyone is like oh, okay. >> reporter: so why does this look so good? it's a composite, so convincing one poster said this person can write better with a freakin' plane than i can using a pen. but this is what the joke actually looked like. everyone's favorite part was the question mark. >> he did it all in one move as if a big curl and then he straightened out and then turned off the smoke and then just hit the smoke one more time for the period at the bottom of the question mark. that was pretty awesome. >> for his next project, kirk wants to put jokes on billboards. hundreds of billboards. at least they won't vanish the way the sky writing did. >> you can see how by the time you started on do, how is almost illegible. >> reporter: funny how the wicked witch and the wizard of oz made it look so easy. >> dorothy!
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>> reporter: better to have your joke go up in smoke than to have it bomb. even if it did take 20 minutes to get to the punch line. jeannie moos, cnn, new york. thank you, jeannie. that's it for me. thanks very much for watching. erin burnett "outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, the white house in damage control mode. obama administration hit with three controversies. does the buck stop with the president? plus the latest from the investigation in boston. dzhokhar tsarnaev was hiding e - written by him. going to tell you what it says. first big break in that case. and the company that told angelina jolie she could face cancer is under serious fire tonight. we have a special investigation. let's go out front. good

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